The 5 Dog Heatstroke Symptoms Every Owner Needs to Know
Heatstroke in dogs is a deadly killer. It is so important to be able to pick up that your dog is overheating before they become critically unwell. In this article I'll go through the 5 main symptoms of heatstroke you need to know about.
Remember too that and it doesn't even have to be that hot. A sudden increase in temperature can easily cause heatstroke even if the actual temperature is not that high. Your dog will not be acclimatized and so the risk is very real.
Dog heatstroke symptoms
- Heavy panting
- Dry, red gums
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Collapse + other nervous problems
The first sign of heatstroke in dogs is heavy panting. Dogs who are active will pant. Very often though their mouths will only be half open, their tongue will hardly be showing and they will also take breaks in panting, especially after a short rest.
As a dogs body temperature climbs however, they will fully open their mouth, their tongue will be sticking right out and may even become swollen. They will also constantly pant without any stopping, even if they have been resting for some time. This is a sure sign that they are not out of breath from exertion, they are in fact overheating.
Next we have drooling. The evaporation of saliva during panting helps a dog to cool down. As the body heats up more saliva is produced so if your dog is really drooling excessively then this is a good sign that their body temperature is climbing and they are having a hard time losing heat.
Dry, red gums
Dry, red gums is my third heatstroke sign. When heatstroke is developing all of the blood vessels on the outside of your dog will open up and dilate to try and encourage as much heat loss as possible. This is best seen in the gums, where they go from being a salmon pink to a bright red.
Sticking with the gums, dehydration becomes a real risk in hot weather, especially in a dog who is panting and drooling heavily. If your dog is becoming dehydrated then their saliva will become very thick and stringy and their gums will go from being nice and moist to tachy and dry.
Vomiting and diarrhea
Things are becoming more serious now and the 4th sign of heatstroke in dogs is vomiting and diarrhea - as the inside of the body heats up the internal organs really start to struggle. One thing that you might see is that your dog either starts to vomit or develops diarrhea (or both). This is because the lining of the intestine starts to become damaged.
There might be fresh blood or, if the heatstroke has developed over a longer period of time, you might notice diarrhea that is black and tar-like. This is a sign that the lining of the intestines is damaged and your dog is bleeding into their guts.
Collapse + nervous problems
My final sign of heatstroke you need to know about is a change in mental state and other nervous problems. This starts with your dog just stopping all the time and not responding like normal. They may become wobbly, start twitching and even develop seizures. If this doesn't happen though they may lie down and either refuse or be unable to move. Your dog may look vacant or even become comatozed.
Clearly a dog who is collapsed or seizuring is not in a good way and immediate action is needed. Preferably you should act well before they reach this stage.
If your dog is showing any of these signs of heatstroke then stopping whatever you are doing and starting to cool them down quickly is vital. If a dog is suffering from heatstroke then cooling them before you get to the vet can reduce their chance of dying by a whopping 23%!
Even better is to stop your dog from overheating and prevent heatstroke in the first place. Here are my top tips for how to keep a dog cool in summer.
Enjoy the hot weather but make sure to keep your dog cool at the same time.
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